It is easy to make tasty shawarma at home

It's easy to make tasty shawarma at home

Kerala has been enjoying the spicy and flavoursome shawarma, the popular Middle Eastern street food, for almost 25 years. Though the delicious dish was originated in Lebanon, its flavours travelled to all over the globe through the Arab merchants and immigrants. The Arabic word shawarma was borrowed from Turkish 'cevirme' which means 'turning.'

It was the Lebanese travellers and merchants who took shawarma to countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Iraq. In the beginning of the 20th century, shawarma travelled to Pakistan and Europe.

The Lebanese immigrants made the dish popular in Mexico, the country which celebrates food and cuisine. Food experts say that shawarma is one of the most costly street foods in the Canadian cities of Ottawa and Montreal. In 1970, shawarma stalls were opened at the Piccadilly Circus, and Britain fell in love with this spicy meat dish.

In the beginning, the Turks, Syrians, and Lebanese were the masters of shawarma making in the Middle Eastern countries. However, since the Keralites began to migrate to the gulf countries in huge numbers, we began to own some of the most popular shawarma stalls there. It was at Malappuram where a hot roll of tasty shawarma was served for the first time in Kerala.

It's easy to make tasty shawarma at home

Thinly sliced meat is slowly roasted on a rotating rotisserie to prepare shawarma. A tomato and an onion too are placed on the vertical rotisseries so that the flavours of that too are absorbed by the meat slices. The motorized spit turns, roasting the outer layer of the meat. Meat is then shaved of the stack using a long, sharp knife.

The rotisserie meat which falls on the vessel beneath the spit is then mixed with shredded cabbage, chopped carrot and diced tomatoes. This mixture is finely chopped again with the long knife. On a kuboos (Arabic pita bread), some garlic sauce is spread and the meat – vegetable mixture is added, and rolled into a delicious shawarma.

Poison which kills

Though incredibly tasty, shawarma also has the reputation of causing severe health problems, which could even turn fatal. Medical practitioners warn that the botulinum toxin contained in shawarma can lead to death. While preparing the dish, half cooked meat is cooled down and then heated again. The meat doesn't cook thoroughly when it is repeatedly cooled down and heated up. Thus clostridium bacteria are formed in the meat slices, and this would further lead to the formation of botulinum toxin.

However, these bacteria cannot survive the high temperature in which the meat is roasted on a shawarma pit. Shawarma becomes poisonous and dangerous when the meat is not cooked properly in the right way. Besides, the mayonnaise prepared with sunflower oil, lemon juice and egg whites are often kept in the open. Street foods like this are generally prepared outside the shops to attract customers. Food Safety Department has issued strict directives about preparing shawarma in hygienic environment.

Here is an easy recipe to make tasty and healthy shawarma at home.


For the wrap

¼ cup maida (all-purpose flour)

¼ cup wheat flour

¼ cup rice flour

¼ cup powdered ragi

3 tbsp curd

Salt as required

1 egg white

¼ cup hot milk

1 tsp yeast

1 tsp sugar

For the fill

½ kg chicken

¼ cup sliced cucumber

¼ cup sliced cabbage

¼ cup sliced carrot

¼ cup chopped tomato

2 tsp pepper powder

½ tsp chicken masala

Salt as required

2 tsp lemon juice

3 tsp mayonnaise


Melt the yeast and sugar in ¼ cup of warm water

Add maida, rice flour, wheat flour and ragi powder to a bowl

Add salt, yeast mix, egg white, curds and warm milk to it, mix well

Pour hot water into the ingredients and knead thoroughly

The more you knead, the softer it becomes

Cover the dough with a moist cloth and keep aside for it to rise

Cook the chicken with salt, pepper powder and chicken masala

Once it cools, shred the chicken

Heat a pan and put the shredded chicken, salt and chopped vegetables till they are well cooked. (Note that no oil should be poured into the pan.)

Mix well with the lemon juice and pepper powder

Meanwhile, make dough into small balls the size of a lime

Roll them into flat breads and cook both sides, make sure the breads puff up


Use warm water to mix the dough. It should be mixed 4 -5 times using hands. The flat bread should be made only after the chicken mixture is prepared. The dough can also be prepared with all purpose flour alone. Do not add any oil in the dough or while preparing the flat bread. Adding some milk or egg white in the dough would make the flat bread soft, fluffy and tasty.

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